2020 applicants
Postgraduate Course

MA Modern and Contemporary Literature

MA Modern and Contemporary Literature

Overview

The details
Modern and Contemporary Literature
October 2021
Full-time
1 year
Colchester Campus

Our MA Modern and Contemporary Literature degree offers a rich and unique perspective on the remarkable literature and culture of the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries. At Essex, you won’t just study the familiar canon of English literature; you will study world literature in English. You will explore literature across time, geography and genre, combining traditional scholarly research with fresh and innovative ways of reading and engaging with texts.

As a postgraduate student of literature, you will have the opportunity to explore a broad and diverse range of types of writings, from lyric poetry to contemporary fiction, and study an array of literary and cultural traditions, from European literature of the early twentieth century to American literatures, including recent Caribbean writing.

You will be able to construct your degree based on your interests, drawing on an extensive list of options, including modules on;

  • Modernism and postmodernism
  • Adaptation
  • The environment and new nature writing
  • Queer literature
  • African American literature
  • Themes of war, violence, conflict and human rights in literature
  • Literature and translation in a global context
  • Literature and film
  • US avant-garde poetry

Based in our Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies, you’ll join a community of novelists, dramatists, story-tellers and poets.

We’ve nurtured a long tradition of distinguished writers whose work has shaped literature as we know it today, from past giants such as the American poets Robert Lowell and Ted Berrigan, to contemporary writers such as mythographer and novelist Dame Marina Warner, and Booker Prize-winner Ben Okri.

Why we're great.
  • Join a diverse network of distinguished alumni including Booker Prize and Pulitzer Prize winners
  • Publish your own work in our annual creative writing journal, Creel
  • Discover innovative practical ways of engaging with texts including theatre visits and archival research
THE Awards 2018 - Winner University of the Year

Our expert staff

Our Department is a vibrant conservatoire of scholars and practitioners who are committed to unlocking creative personal responses to literature and creative writing. This distinctive environment is possible because we are a community of award-winning novelists, poets and playwrights, as well as leading literature specialists.

Our academic staff specialise in a range of areas including modernism, comparative and world literature, Shakespeare, the Renaissance, modernism, travel writing, nature writing, translated literature, cultural geography, Irish and Scottish writing, U.S. and Caribbean literatures, and the history of reading.

Specialist facilities

  • Meet fellow readers at our department’s Myth Reading Group
  • Write for our student magazine on our media platform REBEL or host a REBEL Radio show
  • Publish your own work in our annual creative writing journal, Creel
  • View classic films at weekly film screenings in our dedicated 120-seat cinema, Cine10
  • Learn from leading writers and literature specialists at weekly research seminars
  • Our on-campus Lakeside Theatre has been established as a major venue for good drama, staging both productions by professional touring companies and a wealth of new work written, produced and directed by our own staff and students
  • Improve your playwriting and performance skills at our Lakeside Theatre Workshops
  • Our Research Laboratory allows you to collaborate with professionals, improvising and experimenting with new work which is being tried and tested

Your future

A good literature and creative writing degree opens many doors and our students have gone on to work in a number of careers such as writers, editors, publishers, scholars, university lecturers, teachers, journalists, arts administrators, theatre artistic directors, drama advisers, and translators.

We also offer supervision for PhD, MPhil and MA by Dissertation in different literatures and various approaches to literature, covering most aspects of early modern and modern writing in English, plus a number of other languages.

Our University is one of only 11 AHRC-accredited Doctoral Training Centres in the UK. This means that we offer funded PhD studentships which also provide a range of research and training opportunities.

We also work with our Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

A 2.2 degree in Creative Writing, Theatre/Drama Studies, Literature, Film and Media Studies, Modern Languages , Art History, Music, Philosophy, History, American Studies, Performance studies, Journalism, Law, Politics and Sociology.

You may be asked to provide a piece of creative writing if you do not hold a degree in a relevant field.

International & EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please select your country page where you'll find this information.

English language requirements

IELTS 7.0 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5 except for 6.5 in writing

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

Additional Notes

The University uses academic selection criteria to determine an applicant’s ability to successfully complete a course at the University of Essex. Where appropriate, we may ask for specific information relating to previous modules studied or work experience.

Structure

Example structure

Most of our courses combine compulsory and optional modules, giving you freedom to pursue your own interests. All of the modules listed below provide an example of what is on offer from the current academic year. Our Programme Specification provides further details of the course structure for the current academic year.

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore to ensure your course is as relevant and up-to-date as possible your core module structure may be subject to change.

The example structure below is representative of this course if taken full-time. If you choose to study part-time, the modules will be split across 2 years.

Research Methods in Literary and Cultural Analysis

Are you ready for your dissertation? Examine a variety of research methods and methodologies, building the research skills and understanding needed to complete your postgraduate-level research project.

View Research Methods in Literary and Cultural Analysis on our Module Directory

The New Nature Writing

On this module, you approach writing about the natural world through a series of three-week units on subjects such as trees, marshes, coasts, and birds. Each unit will begin with a focus on the local – the wild east of Essex and Suffolk – before moving outwards to larger perspectives. Several of the units will involve field trips led by the writers being studied, which will include such figures as Richard Mabey and Robert Macfarlane.

View The New Nature Writing on our Module Directory

Writing the Novel

What inspires a writer? How do you develop your idea? What about plotting, character, structure and setting? Explore the general principles of developing a novel from initial inspiration to final draft. Undertake practical exercises to find out which writing methods best suit you and your ideas.

View Writing the Novel on our Module Directory

The Modern City: From Modernism to Postmodernism

Explore the cultural and political capitals of the twentieth and twenty-first century: New York, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Moscow and London. By considering these urban spaces, you actively explore the categories of modernism and postmodernism, as well as a range of theories of the modern/postmodern city. Emphasis is placed on taking an interdisciplinary approach – discussion of literary works (including plays) will be complemented by viewing/listening to performances, films, and readings. You also consider paintings and photographs, city maps, and even urban planning decisions.

View The Modern City: From Modernism to Postmodernism on our Module Directory

Memory Maps: Practices in Psychogeography

A new genre of literature has been emerging: moving between fiction, history, traveller's tales, and memoir, it explores the spirit of place. This tradition of “psychogeography” has been most vividly taken up and given a new contemporary twist by writers in the eastern stretches of England, in the work of writers such as Ronald Blythe, W.G. Sebald and Iain Sinclair. This module is concerned with writing on the landscape of this region – the ways the wilder reaches of Essex and Suffolk have been depicted – and allows you to develop your critical and creative writing about place. This module usually involves a walking tour around Colchester where we will have the chance to explore these literary landscapes and experience these worlds for ourselves. Students will incur travel costs of approximately £2.50 for this trip.

View Memory Maps: Practices in Psychogeography on our Module Directory

Dissertation

Your dissertation is the culmination of your time at Essex. Focusing on one particular topic in great depth, you formulate an urgent research question to be subsequently addressed, either critically or creatively. Your dedicated supervisor will be on-hand to guide you through the process, and our pre-requisite module on research methods will ensure you are fully prepared for the task at hand.

View Dissertation on our Module Directory

Dramatic Structure

Want to write your own stage plays? Have an idea of a screenplay? Learn about the range of contemporary plays and possibilities that exist within contemporary drama. Develop your own work, discussing topics like dialogue, construction of plot and structure of scenes within a supportive and creative environment.

View Dramatic Structure on our Module Directory

United States Nationalism and Regionalism

How can a nation reach its potential if it will not think of itself as new, independent and important? Study major writers from the nineteenth century onwards. Explore the development of US nationalism and literature. Examine the development of regionalism. Understand how these processes relate to wider transnational considerations.

View United States Nationalism and Regionalism on our Module Directory

African American Literature

How has African-American writing shaped US culture? And how has it often been at the forefront of literary experiment? Examine fiction and poetry that moved the African-American experience from the literary margins to cultural prominence. Understand literary developments, and how these link to broader historical, social and theoretical changes.

View African American Literature on our Module Directory

Writing, Poetry, Performance

Explore the intersections of writing, art, poetry, and performance. This module encourages you to be as inventive as you can: unrestricted by discipline or form. You gain experience in the production of text-based art forms, and are encouraged to visit local exhibitions and events, as well as London venues, such as the Performance Room at the Tate Modern. Seminars include practical exercises and experiments with emphasis on group work and collaboration.

View Writing, Poetry, Performance on our Module Directory

Crossing the Boundaries: Literature and Translation in a Global Context
Writing Magic

Magic and writing have a close association, in terms of subject, structure and in the creation of literature itself. Magic is a 'pretended' or 'hidden principle', which uses the supernatural and works in the same way as mythic or metaphorical literary writing in seeking to reveal hidden connections and truths. The history of magic, both as a subject for writing, with its colourful characters and events, and in its use of ritual and archetype and with its themes of transformation, offers many possibilities for writing and creativity in theory and practical application.

View Writing Magic on our Module Directory

Continental Crossings: Caribbean and US Literature and Culture

How do US writers imagine and represent the Caribbean? And vice versa? Deepen knowledge of American literature by examining poetic, fictional, nonfictional and dramatic works in a broader context. Investigate contemporary issues like the American Dream, what it means to be from the Americas, migration, and the question of language.

View Continental Crossings: Caribbean and US Literature and Culture on our Module Directory

Literature and the Environmental Imagination: 19th to 21st Century Poetry and Prose

Wilderness. Activism. Extinction. What is the relationship between literature and the environment, and how has it changed over time? How does imaginative thought connect with scientific understanding? Study leading environmental theorists alongside literary works from the Romantic period to postmodernity, while optional film screenings enhance your study of written texts.

View Literature and the Environmental Imagination: 19th to 21st Century Poetry and Prose on our Module Directory

Assessment

The MA culminates in a dissertation, an extended piece of independent research on a topic of your choice, for which you will be assigned an expert in the field to supervise you as you work on your project over the summer. The dissertation is your chance to focus on an author, text, genre, tradition, theory, body of work, or unanswered question which has gripped, excited, inspired or intrigued you, and to put the skills and knowledge you will have acquired during your studies into use.

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee

£8,760

International fee

£18,800

EU students commencing their course in the 2021-22 academic year will be liable for the International fee.

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

What's next

Open Days

We hold Open Days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing tours@essex.ac.uk and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

Applying

You can apply for this postgraduate course online. Before you apply, please check our information about necessary documents that we’ll ask you to provide as part of your application.

We aim to respond to applications within two weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

For information on our deadline to apply for this course, please see our ‘how to apply’ information.

Colchester Campus

Visit Colchester Campus

Home to 15,000 students from more than 130 countries, our Colchester Campus is the largest of our three sites, making us one of the most internationally diverse campuses on the planet - we like to think of ourselves as the world in one place.

The Campus is set within 200 acres of beautiful parkland, located two miles from the historic town centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded town. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.

 

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.

Exhibitions

Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.

At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.


Find out more

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

Ask us a question
Ask us a question

Want to quiz us about your course? Got a question that just needs answering? Get in touch and we’ll do our best to email you back shortly.